It’s the “giant elephant in the room that nobody’s talking about”, says Ben Parfitt of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
According to Parfitt, in the 10 years ending in 2017, Alberta-bound shipments of natural gas from northeast BC. increased by more than 230 per cent.
Since its election last year, the NDP government has ramped up tax incentives to energy firms to invest in BC’s gas resources, but its Energy Minister Michelle Mungall has so far refused to disclose how much companies will benefit from the subsidies after discounting for royalty payments.
BC’s gas is essential for extracting the heavy oil from Alberta’s tar sands and converting it to diluted bitumen. The return of this “dilbit” from Alberta to BC via the planned expansion of TransMountain pipeline is the source of much controversy and division in the province. The pipeline was recently sold by Kinder Morgan to the federal government for a price far exceeding its estimated present and future worth.
“There is a deep irony at play in the high drama we are witnessing”, Parfitt says. BC has effectively become a preferred gas supplier to its neighbouring petro-province Alberta, both governed by the NDP, Canada’s social democratic party which sees itself in the vanguard of the fight against climate change.